Movie Issues

1) People in movies generally have the worst table manners: they hold their silverware in odd, random fashions, stuff their mouths with food, and then talk so that you can hear it mushing around inside their mouths. But they are also forever holding wine glasses by only the stem, i.e., they aren't cradling the cup at all, just grasping the stem with their fingers. Now I guess some people consider this correct etiquette, but it is something I rarely see "real" people do. So why is it movie characters ignore common table manners, but hold wine glasses in this highly refined manner?

2) Movie tech talk: I just watched Event Horizon -- a pretty bad movie, by the way -- and when the scientist / engineer tries to explain his new engine to a bunch of astronauts, in fairly simple, non-mathematical terms, they all become dumbfounded and ask him to speak English. These people are supposed to be technical experts of various types. How, for instance, did the engineer get his job if a simple explanation like the one the scientist offered does not even sound like English to him?

The worst ever of this type of incident has to be this -- watch at about 40 seconds in, for about 15 seconds or so:

How do you like that: Jeff Goldblum gives a junior-in-high-school-level explanation of chaos theory, and Laura Dern, playing a PhD scientist, makes a cute little, "but I'm only a freshman and that went right over my head" gesture!


  1. What is even weirder is how Jeff Goldblum grabs Laura Dern's hair while talking to her like it is the most normal thing to do while speaking to a stranger.

    It's like in movies, everyone can invade one another's private space while talking to them, as if strangers always speak intimately to one another.

    PS: The YouTube comment is spot on that it sounds like Jeff Goldblum improvised the whole scene.

  2. It was years ago, but remember being unsettled by that movie.

    "Where we're going, you don't need eyes..."

    I think that movie could explain some of my distrust of technology.

  3. Yeah that was painful. Although it's conceivable you could say she was flirting with him, and a lot of girls think (perhaps correctly) that guys will be more comfortable if they think they are smarter than the girl they are flirting with.

    1. Bob, did many of the woman PhDs you studied with hide their intelligence when dealing with men? (I think you are correct in that's what the director was thinking, but it's still unrealistic.)

  4. One of my good friends is an actor (roommate/shipmate from my Navy/LA days), and I know quite a few actors and have also been on quite a few sets. In almost all cases, the people who are responsible for putting movies together aren't concerned with reality and/or aren't even aware of what would qualify as realistic. The purpose is entertainment for the masses, which doesn't always correspond with correctness. I can watch war or Navy movies and pick out dozens of factual errors, or just things that don't follow from the given information.

    I actually liked 'Event Horizon' for a horror flick, because it had an interesting twist to the standard 'possession' theme. Sure, the acting kind of sucked and the characters weren't very interesting, but I thought that the theme and story were good. Again, I am talking about for its genre.

    It's funny, ever since having watched acting from the other side it is now almost impossible for me to watch a movie without seeing the actor act. Obviously, we all watch actors act, but what I am talking about is being able to suspend disbelief and see the actor as his/her character. Since I am a sound-oriented person, one of whose hobbies is sound engineering, I tend to pay more attention to the sonic details when watching a film, and there is just so much that gets missed by the audiences. Most people aren't even aware of that content, nor are they aware of just how much of the film's content is aural.

  5. Related to 2), I just watched Gattaca, and a part toward the end really annoyed me, in how they have stuff completely unrealistic for a engineer/astronaut.

    Basically, it's the last few days before the protagonist, Vincent, is going on an unprecedented, important manned mission to Titan, and the movie is otherwise realistic sci-fi. Now, in an actual space program, Vincent would be under constant monitoring to make sure he's ready for space travel. Instead, we get this:

    - He's basically allowed to go wherever he wants, without supervision, even to the point of swimming out so far as to create a severe drowning risk.

    - He disappears from work one day before launch without people going on a manhunt for him.

    - We see no evidence of the media trying to swarm him for interviews.

    - When he finally does come in for the launch, he's dressed in a business suit, and gets into the spaceship *wearing it*. WTF? Looking nice is at the bottom of the priority list on a space mission, while comfort and being able to breathe (esp in emergencies) are at the top.

    (It may be that space travel is so common as to be like air travel is now, making a business suit normal when flying, but the movie makes it seem like Titan is far outside of the normal range of spaceflight, making it more like a moon mission would be today.)


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